About the Chorus

The Martha’s Vineyard Children’s Chorus is a nonprofit organization founded by Lisa Varno.

The chorus is artistically directed by Laura Walton, and executively directed by Casey Ann Hayward.

The chorus’ mission is to unite students island-wide through song and to develop musicianship, self-confidence, and musical expression through developmentally appropriate vocal instruction.

Any interested singers from grades 1-8 are welcome to join this non-auditioned chorus! Weekly rehearsals are held in the Edgartown School Music Room and run for two semesters (January-May and September-December) followed by culminating concerts in May and December.

Our Lyric Choir (grades 1-3) will meet from 4:15-5:15 p.m. and our Concert Choir (grades 4-8) will meet from 5:15-6:15 p.m. We will perform together in our concerts and will rehearse together toward the end of the semester. Each singer will pay a nominal fee of $50 per semester.

We are a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and rely on your charitable donations for continued music making. If you would like to support our endeavor, please send your tax-deductible donation to Martha’s Vineyard Children’s Chorus, Inc. PO Box 1281, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or click on the button below to donate electronically:

About the Directors

Founder, Lisa Varno, M.M.Ed.

Lisa Varno has been a music educator for students ranging from pre-school through high school. She taught choral music and general music for eight years in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania public schools and directed numerous choruses ranging in size from ten singers to 300. Aside from her public school experience, she served as the Associate Conductor of the Gordon College Children’s Choir, Assistant Conductor of the Northshore Youth Symphony Orchestra Chorale, Girls’ Chorus Manager of the MMEA Northeastern Junior District Festival, and Assistant Director of Choruses for the Gordon College Summer Music Academy. She has also been actively involved in her community and established several church choirs. Lisa was an active mentor for several years through Embracing the New Music Educator, and has hosted numerous student teachers from Gordon College, Gettysburg College, and Messiah College. 

Lisa earned a Master of Music in Music Education from The Hartt School, University of Hartford, and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Gordon College. She is a recipient of the PAMLE Promising Educator Award, and she received two consecutive years of Distinguished Ratings through the PDE teacher evaluation system for teacher effectiveness.


Laura Walton, Artistic Director 

Laura Walton currently serves as the Edgartown School’s K-8 Choral/General Music Teacher and is excited to continue building this ensemble within our island community. Laura holds a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Education from Syracuse University Setnor School of Music and is pursuing a Master's Degree in Elementary General and Special Education at New York University. She has experience working in a variety of educational settings ranging from interning with the Syracuse Children’s Chorus under the direction of Marcia DeMartini, teaching early childhood music classes, and tutoring academic and literacy skills to various ages; her students have ranged as young as early childhood through high school. Laura believes all children have strengths, whether they be musical or otherwise, and that the job of a teacher is to find those strengths and foster them to their fullest potential.

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Casey Ann Hayward, Executive Director 

Casey Ann Hayward is an educator, director, writer and performer. Currently, she is teaching 5/6 grade science and social studies at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School in addition to weekly offerings such as improvisation and debate and a two week intensive on music and songwriting. She was a panellist at NYU’s International Forum for Educational Theatre and has apprenticed for The New 42nd Street Studios/New Victory Theatre and The 2009 TONY awards. She trained professionally at The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, Body in Space Theatre Company, and at The Yard for their “DEL Day of Dance Workshop for Island Educators.” She is an active member of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education and has taught for The National Youth Drama School, The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, Barrow Street Nursery, The West Tisbury School, The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, and Education Unlimited at MIT. Publications include “How To Be An Actor” (New Chapter Press, 2013) and “Exoskeletons: Generating Content For Popular Music” The Teaching Artist Journal (Taylor & Francis, 2016). In 2017, she co-wrote, “Gene Play” with Jonah Lipsky; directed by Joann Green Breuer (Monday Night Special Series, MV Playhouse). Education: MA, New York University. BFA, Boston University. 


Griffin McMahon, Accompanist

Born and raised in western Massachusetts, Griffin McMahon is a graduate of The Juilliard School and currently lives on Martha's Vineyard. He serves as Music Director and Organist at St. Andrew's Church in historic downtown Edgartown on the island and regularly travels for performances. Griffin is a passionate music educator and has taught piano lessons since his young teenage years as well as extensive work as pianist and vocal coach for children's musical theater productions. Highlights of the recent season include performances at St. John the Divine, performing Saint-Saens' "Organ" Symphony No. 3 with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and an unique outdoor organ performance at the Eaux Claires Music Festival in August 2016, curated by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and The National's Aaron Dessner.

Griffin McMahon is emerging as a unique and versatile organist / pianist, vocalist, music educator, and avid collaborator in the American music scene. Equally at home in the worlds of classical and popular music, Griffin has performed at diverse venues ranging from concert halls like Alice Tully Hall (Lincoln Center), Mechanics Hall and the Kimmel Center to the Eaux Claires Music Festival and Brooklyn Bowl. He has performed several times on the world's largest functioning pipe organ, the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia. In 2014, Griffin performed in a historic eighteen-hour complete organ works of Bach marathon concert at St. Peter's Church in New York City, live-streamed by WQXR radio to thousands of listeners. His performances have been broadcast on national radio syndicates such as the “Wanamaker Organ Hour" on WRTI, "Pipedreams" on American Public Media, and WQXR, New York's Classical Music Radio Station.


Board of Directors

  • Karen Lobdell, President
  • Marc Favreau, Treasurer
  • Jenny Friedman, Clerk